Immunotherapy is the process of exposing the body to small amounts of the allergen to which the patient is allergic, sometimes in progressively increasing amounts, to shift the immune system into “tolerating” that allergen better, and eventually reducing the reaction to that allergen.
This involves a series of injections into the skin of the upper arm using bee venom, initially in tiny amounts that gradually increase. The course involves weekly injections for about 4 months when a dose equivalent to at least one whole bee sting is achieved. Once the top dose has been reached, the patient will remain on “maintenance” injections every 4-6 weeks, for 3-5 years.
We particularly recommend this procedure for children and adults who have had severe reactions to bee stings. Suitability for this programme can be discussed with your allergist.
If the patient has particularly troublesome allergies to airborne allergens such as house dust mite, grass, certain moulds or dog/cat dander, then sublingual immunotherapy may be a suitable option. This involves a daily “dose” of the allergen given under the tongue- this can be done at home. Generally we advise a full 3 years of this treatment for maximal benefit.
We currently offer oral desensitization mainly to peanut; suitability of other allergens can be discussed with your allergist. Please see the information sheet on peanut allergy for more information.
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